I recently switched to using a mechanical pencil (recently being since last September) and these eraser shavings that seem to be everywhere are driving me crazy!

I've had a look at things like this and this, but it's hugely inefficient to keep using these to clean up the shavings every time I erase (which is quiet frequently, I'm a little picky with neatness of notes). It has also been noted that the second link actually leaves a mark when rolled over white paper which isn't pleasant at all.

  • I always used my eraser shavings to make a new eraser that could be used to pick up other eraser shavings. It does take some time to make though. I can post how to make it as an answer if you wish.
    – Dragonrage
    Mar 7, 2016 at 3:29
  • @Dragonrage This would be lovely actually. I'll wait a bit before accepting though in the hope of attracting more answers. Mar 7, 2016 at 3:44
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    You might explore different kinds of erasers at a stationery or art supply store. It sounds as if you're using the wrong kind of eraser. Erasing technique can make a difference, too. Rubbing directly on the mark with the wrong eraser will drive the graphite into the fibres of the paper. That makes it more difficult to remove the mark without removing the surface texture of the paper.
    – Stan
    May 9, 2016 at 4:10

9 Answers 9


The two items you linked to are novelty items and are unlikely to work well. The tool professionals (e.g. draftsmen) use for this job is a drafting brush like this one:

Drafting brush

(not recommending this product specifically, this is just the first example I came across)

  • This is a neat idea, makes it easy to sweep multiple shavings at once and NOT accidentally crumple paper with my hand (happens very occasionally but shouldn't happening at all). Is there one that you would actually recommend? I'm concerned about the hardness of the brush scratching the paper. On a side note, why are the linked novelty items unlikely to work well? Mar 7, 2016 at 18:54
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    Any drafting brush will do, they're made for brushing paper. The novelty items - one is a tiny vacuum cleaner. In my experience, a battery-powered one never has enough suction to remove everything. And a more powerful one would pull the paper up and crumple it. The other one has two tiny brushes, so you spend ages moving it back and forth to get everything. With the drafting brush you get all the debris in one stroke, usually.
    – Hobbes
    Mar 7, 2016 at 20:35
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    @IrregularUser: The bristles on a drafting brush are typically pretty soft, like horse hair. They won't scratch paper. May 2, 2016 at 19:13
  • Use a hard pencil (i.e. one that doesn't easily smear) and just brush off the shavings with your hand or - as has been suggested - a soft brush. Hold the paper on one side and brush away from there to avoid crinkling it.
  • For softer pencils you can use kneaded erasers (putty erasers) which avoids the problem in the first place. They don't work as well for harder pencils, but you can also use them to collect the shavings from a normal eraser. This is what I've always used for pencil drawings to avoid smearing.

You can collect the eraser shavings for awhile, then once you get a small pile of them, you can start to make them into a new eraser. To make the new eraser out the shavings, you will need to have your fingers slightly damp, and then start compressing the shavings together. Start with the largest shavings first and dampen your fingers again as they dry out. After a bit, they should start sticking together and you can keep adding shavings to the ball you make. It should take on a consistency similar to silly putty and be slightly sticky. You can then use the new eraser to pick up more shavings and add to it, or as an eraser. Every time you use it (on different days), you should knead it with slightly damp fingers to keep it malleable and to prevent it from hardening. It can easily pick up new shavings, and you can then reuse them.

  • With this dampness added, I assume that this ball of shavings is also damp? In which case I'd be a bit worried with even bringing it near my paper! Mar 7, 2016 at 4:01
  • @IrregularUser The dampness is mostly absorbed into the shavings, but the ball shouldn't be damp. You don't need to use that much dampness when doing this. A little more is needed initially, other than that hardly any is needed. You could simply lick your fingers and have enough to keep it malleable once you get the ball started. Though licking your fingers is somewhat less sanitary than other methods.
    – Dragonrage
    Mar 7, 2016 at 4:06
  • I'm rather interested in trying this now and will do so over the next few days. Hopefully it's a nice solution! Mar 7, 2016 at 4:09
  • @IrregularUser just be aware that it may take a bit of time for them to compress together into a ball. The larger the shavings are that you start with, the easier it is. I learned how to do it from a friend in high school.
    – Dragonrage
    Mar 7, 2016 at 4:11
  • But eraser shavings tend to be full of carbon from the pencil marks you erased, reusing them often leads to smudges on the paper.
    – Hobbes
    Mar 7, 2016 at 10:43

Use a Vinyl eraser and a metal eraser guard. Use a kneaded eraser to pick up the pieces. Vinyl erasers can erase almost anything and kneaded erasers can be shaped to fit any space and they do not leave any residue behind. Also, if you use an electric eraser, this may help with the accuracy of what you are erasing.


Use some canned air to blow them onto the floor, end of the day sweep or vacuum the floor. Use an sloping drafting table with a gutter and brush them into the gutter.


An option can be using erasers that are easier to use, so you don't need to put to much pressure and they generate less shavings. I found this example online.

Also, I found a solution similar to the one you suggested but this one looks easier to use.


Use a Dyson (or other high powered) handheld vacuum after your drafting session

  • I use my hand to brush shavings into a side or corner of the table as I'm drafting.

  • I don't like brushing shavings onto the floor because they get blown around or stepped on accidentally.

  • Eraser shavings tend to want to stick to surfaces because of the rubber compound, so high powered handheld is great at sucking every last one of them off the table at the end of the session.

  • Because of the (synthetic) rubber friction, the shavings aren't always easy to brush off using a drafting or dust brush, because the bristles apply some downward force onto the shavings, causing some to stick or roll slowly rather than fly smoothly into a pan. Sometimes the bristles spring forward and flick stray shavings elsewhere, where they hang out annoyingly until a wider cleaning.

It's really satisfying to see the shavings disappear into the vacuum, leaving you with a nice clean table.



This is a cool dust eraser collector that I found I'm not sure if it's any good but it seems convenient to carry around to places especially if you're working around others.


when done get a piece of playdough to pick up the shavings

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